Being involved in an automobile accident can be terrifying, and painful. A personal injury auto accident is quite overwhelming, and your rights and responsibilities can get confusing.
Here are some of the steps a driver should take if they are involved in a personal injury auto accident.
Take it Seriously
Any car accident, even if you think it’s minor, is a serious situation. Be sure that you call the police to report to the scene. Also, request a copy of the police report from the accident, even if the law doesn’t require it. An accurate account of the accident is invaluable when the insurance companies try to determine fault and responsibility, and a police report can provide that for you.
If you end up hiring a personal injury attorney, he will also need this report to help support your case.
See a Doctor
Often, EMT’s or other medical professionals will respond to the accident scene. Always allow them to examine you and follow their advice, but don’t stop there. A lot of times, an injury won’t become apparent for several hours, or even days after the accident. You should always see a doctor to discuss the accident, and the possibility of an injury, even if you think that you’re fine. Be sure to follow all medical advice that is given to you. It will help to speed your recovery, but it will also protect your claim.
Connecting your injuries to the auto accident is instrumental in settling a personal injury claim. Be sure that the doctor knows that you were in an accident and that you suspect that any injuries are a result of that accident. Some states will reduce a settlement if you do not follow all of the medical recommendations, including follow-up visits, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or appointments with other medical professionals.
Keep a Journal
A daily journal, or diary, describing any medical treatment or advice, as well as any inconveniences caused by the accident and/or your injuries can be invaluable in determining a fair settlement in a personal injury claim.
This journal should include any detail related to the accident and your injuries, such as:
- Dates, times, and locations of the accident and any subsequent appointments with medical or legal professionals.
- Accurate descriptions of your injuries and your daily pain levels or symptoms.
- Any prescription medication needed during your recovery.
- Details of your daily life, and how the accident has changed it.
- If you can’t work or have new restrictions at work due to the injury.
- If you miss work due to appointments.
- If you have difficulty taking care of yourself, dressing yourself, or with personal hygiene.
Remember, if the journal is used as evidence in court, it can help your case, but it can also hurt it. Keep it as professional and clinical as possible. Don’t be too emotional with your entries, unless you’re describing emotional pain and suffering.
Always take the journal to medical appointments. It can serve to remind you of any symptoms to discuss with your doctor that you may have forgotten. It will also be noted in your medical history which gives more validity to your claim in court or with the insurance company.
Track All Expenses
Keep an accurate account of all out-of-pocket expenses associated with the accident. This will include consultation fees, medical fees, medical devices (crutches, braces, shower chairs, etc.), transportation and parking, and lost wages from work.
Handling Personal Injury Auto Accidents
If you are in an auto accident involving personal injury, it can be terrifying, but it is important to stay calm.
The first steps that you take after these accidents can significantly impact your reimbursement if you file a claim. Check out these tips to learn the best ways to deal with a bodily injury auto accident.
Don’t Admit Fault
You might feel that you should apologize to the other party at the scene of the accident, or even admit fault when reporting it to your insurance agent. Doing this can actually jeopardize your claim.
If you believe that the accident was partially, or completely your fault, do not let the other party, witnesses, the police, your other passengers, or your insurance agent know that you feel that way.
Instead of taking the blame for the accident, get a police report and give an accurate description, complete with photos (if possible). Let the insurance companies decide where the fault lies.
Details, Details, Details…
To improve your chances for full reimbursement following a personal injury auto accident, details are key. To strengthen your claim you should always:
- Take lots of pictures: Since nearly every driver has a camera on their phone, this is much easier than it used to be. If your injuries are not too severe to allow it, take pictures of the cars involved and the location (including street names, traffic lights and signage).
- When photographing your car, more is better. Take lots of pictures from lots of angles, making sure to get close-ups and long distance shots.
- Documentation: Keep every receipt from the towing service, impound yard, hospital and doctor’s offices, and record any lost wages or opportunities associated with your injuries.
- Names and contact information: Try to get this information from the other party, the officer at the scene, and any witnesses to the accident.
- Keep any and all information received from doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and any other professionals that you are referred to following the accident.
You should also collect these records:
- Receipts for any medications prescribed by your doctors
- Travel expenses for medical treatment
- All medical bills and receipts, including those for equipment (canes, crutches, wheelchairs, etc.)
- All correspondence, such as e-mails from medical professionals during your treatment and any notes that you take during your appointments.
- A journal or daily diary. Write down details about your care, your daily pain levels, and any inconveniences associated with your injuries.
Mistakes to Avoid
When all of the dust settles, and it is determined that qualify for reimbursement, some of your actions can still hurt your claim. To ensure a full and fair settlement, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.
- Never let the other party talk you into not filing a police report.
- Don’t talk to people about your case until you need to.
- Never sign any release form or cash a check that comes with a release before a total settlement. Doing so may release the insurance company from any other financial responsibility.
- Don’t settle before all medical treatment and therapy is complete. Be sure that your doctor has confirmed you have recovered completely, and you know the total cost of your injury before a settlement is reached.
Personal Injury Attorneys
If you are overwhelmed by the confusion of dealing with your injury claim, a personal injury attorney could definitely help.
These experienced professionals specialize in these types of claims and can ensure that you fully understand your rights and get you the highest level of reimbursement the law will allow. If you and the insurance company end up in court, disputing the full scope of your claim, attorneys can be invaluable.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After an Accident
Automotive accidents happen every single day, and in many instances, people get injured and aren’t compensated appropriately for their injuries. That’s because they don’t properly track their costs, they aren’t willing to hire a lawyer to help with the case, or they simply rush to settle too quickly and miss a bunch of their costs. That’s why it’s so important to know how to track your medical expenses properly and to know how to get the full amount of money that you need for all those medical expenditures in the end.
Take Plenty of Photos
Pictures are one of the fastest and easiest ways to keep track of all your injuries during an accident. Snap quick photos of your vehicle, the location of the accident as well as any injuries that you sustained during the collision. It’s easy to get all these photos, and most people could do so with their cell phone right at the scene of the crash.
Maintain a Journal
It’s a good idea to keep a small notebook in your vehicle to keeping track of the details of traffic accidents you in which you are involved. You can keep details about your prescriptions, any injuries that you sustain, information from the doctor and all other experiences of the crash.
Keep Those Receipts
This one should be the most obvious of all. While it’s possible to get some of your medical expense records from the hospitals, it is much easier just to show receipts that you have been saving the entire time. Not only that, but receipts will capture your prescription costs, money for special foods or accessories such as crutches and any other expenses related to the crash. This will help you come up with an accurate amount for your expenses and will likely help you build a stronger case overall.
Get proof of your income and also proof of how long you have been out of work because of the injuries that you sustained from the accident. These two pieces of information will make it easy to show the total amount of lost wages that you suffered from the accident when you file a lawsuit or try for an insurance payment.
Take Your Time When Settling
When you get into an accident and sustain medical injuries, it’s vital that you don’t rush for a settlement immediately. The adjuster is going to want to settle with you as fast as possible because, most of the time, that means paying out less money. You won’t have had an opportunity to calculate all those costs properly, or you won’t have incurred all the costs of the injuries yet. By waiting and taking your time to settle you’ll come up with more costs and likely get more money in the process. It’s important not to settle immediately because after you do you likely won’t be able to get money for any additional medical costs.
Personal injuries are quite common in automotive accidents, and it’s important that you take the time to get as much information as you can about your injuries and the injuries your family sustained from an accident. This will help ensure that you get the full amount that you need to keep you from suffering too much financially, which is exactly what liability insurance was made for.
If you have more questions about what to do after a crash, check out our After Accident Guide.